Silver Chips Online

Winter Olympics update

Americans get glory, grief for performances

By Josh Zipin, Online Managing Sports Editor
February 17, 2006
The Olympics are a unique world event that brings all nations together. Even if no one can decide whether or not the games are in Turin or Torino, one thing is for sure: the Winter Olympics are for real.

The U.S. team has had its ups and downs in the Games so far. Some highly touted athletes have faded and some unknowns have risen to the top. Silver Chips Online offers an update on the winners and losers from all around the world to help you catch up on what is happening over there in Italy.

Winners:

Shaun White
The 19-year-old phenom captured his first gold medal by winning the men's halfpipe. White, nicknamed "the Flying Tomato" because of his shaggy red hair, narrowly missed out on making the Olympic team as a 15-year-old.

Joey Cheek
Cheek, the champion in the 500m speed skating event decided to donate all of the $25,000 he receives for his gold medal to a humanitarian effort that donates money to the needy in the Darfur region of Sudan. This should be what the Olympics is all about.

Lindsey Kildow
After crashing during a practice run, Kildow visited the hospital, was discharged and still competed in the women's downhill. She finished eighth, but her spirit and toughness should be an example to those who take these games for granted.

Chad Hedrick
Hedrick did what seems to be impossible for a growing number of U.S. athletes: win a gold medal. The U.S. can only count six to its name at this point, and Hedrick certainly earned his by edging out the Netherlands' Sven Kramer in the 5,000m speed skating event by nearly two full seconds. A former champion in-line skater, Hedrick just picked up speedskating about a year and a half ago, and now he has a gold medal for his country.

Losers:

Bode Miller
Miller has been one of the biggest disappointments for the U.S. at the games. After attracting attention to himself both through his skiing exploits and comments to the media, he has yet to win a medal. He finished fifth in the downhill Sunday, then was disqualified for straddling a gate during the slalom portion of the combined event on Tuesday.

Michelle Kwan
Kwan made the U.S. team, not because she performed well at the Olympic trials, but because she petitioned for a spot. She re-injured her groin muscle that prevented her from competing in the trials in her first practice run in Turin. She announced that she would not compete for that ever elusive Olympic gold medal.

Johnny Weir
Weir entered the finals in second place, but after missing the bus to the most important figure skating final of his career, he never looked in sync during his long program and finished a disappointing fifth.

Keep your eyes on:

Shani Davis
A black speed skater in an almost entirely white sport, Davis is breaking down racial barriers. The Winter Olympics, in comparison to the Summer Olympics, features very few athletes of color from the U.S. Davis is a medal favorite in the 1,000m speed skating event on Feb. 21.

Lindsey Jacobellis
The favorite in the Women's Snowcross, a new event, Jacobellis has a lot of expectations to meet at the 2006 Games. We'll soon know whether or not she can rise above the pressure.

Wayne Gretzky
Caught in the middle of a controversy regarding a gambling ring that his wife used to place bets, Gretzky is just trying to focus on Team Canada hockey. One can only speculate as to when he will simply boil over with anger over all the questions about his wife and the betting scandal.

Apolo Anton Ohno
The Golden Boy of U.S. short track speed skating, Ohno initially faltered by finishing last in his semifinal heat in the 1,500m event, but rebounded to help propel the U.S. team to the finals of the relays.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6249